The Coast News Group

Schools throughout San Diego County allowed to hold in-person classes

REGION — Public, charter and private schools in San Diego County may hold in-person classes starting today, as reopenings continue throughout the region.

Updated county health orders took effect today, allowing all schools — with the exception of colleges and universities — to hold on-campus classes as long as the schools comply with measures outlined by the California Department of Public Health.

Those measures include face coverings required at all times, daily temperature checks recommended, increased emphasis on hand washing and sanitizing, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting in the classrooms and setting classrooms up to allow for increased physical distance between students.

Each school must complete and post a document detailing the actions the school is taking to comply with the industry guidance issued by the state.

County health officials reported 170 new COVID-19 cases and one new death on Monday.

The new data raises the county total to 9,610 confirmed coronavirus cases and 320 deaths, including Monday’s addition to that count: a man in his late 70s who died June 7.

Starting Monday, outdoor religious services were allowed without restrictions on the number of worshippers, so long as social distancing is maintained.

These actions follow a wild weekend in which bars reopened and hundreds of people — many not wearing facial coverings — were captured on social media, seen milling around outside bars in the Gaslamp District.

“The virus is still out there,” County Supervisor Greg Cox warned. “We must continue to be vigilant.”

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said 13 California counties are struggling to keep metrics at a manageable level, and he doesn’t want San Diego County to go down that path. Arizona has seen a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases — more than 7,300 new cases in the last five days — which was on the minds of health officials.

“I can’t predict what is going to happen, but we will see increased cases as we open up,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer.

The county recorded the results of 5,207 new tests Monday, 3% of which represented positive cases. The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive tests is 2.9% and the county has recorded 232,701 total tests. In the past week, the daily average number of tests has exceeded 5,200 — the county’s initial goal for daily testing.

Among those testing positive, a total of 1,530 cases in the county have required hospitalization and 429 had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

A total of 104 outbreaks of the illness have been tracked since the pandemic reached San Diego, with 54 of those still active. Of those, 18 are in skilled nursing facilities, 22 are in other congregate facilities and 13 are outbreaks in community settings.

Health officials continue to monitor 13 potential “triggers” which could cause the county to take industry-specific actions, pause all reopening efforts, or even dial back reopenings. The county remains “green” on 12 of 13 triggers. The only one San Diego County is not meeting metrics on is the “case count” growth. The metric is 8% growth per week, and San Diego County has seen its cases increase by 18%, which Wooten said is attributable to increased testing.

Another of those 13 triggers would be having seven recorded community outbreaks within a week.

Wooten said Friday the county has recorded five community outbreaks of the illness in the past week. Past community outbreaks have included church meetings, parties and a wedding.

“We had only about three community outbreaks in the month of May,” she said.

One newly reported outbreak originated from a restaurant. The outbreak remains under investigation, and Wooten said she could not immediately share additional information.

The Metropolitan Transit System began increasing bus and trolley services Monday, and personal care businesses like skincare and waxing salons, tattoo parlors, massage therapists and nail salons are preparing for a Friday reopening.

The UC San Diego Blue Line trolley — which connects the San Ysidro international border to downtown San Diego — has increased its service frequency to every 7 1/2 minutes from 4:30 a.m. until 7 p.m., and keep 15-minute frequencies until 9 p.m., followed by every 30 minutes until the end of the service day.

While trolley service will be increasing to closely mirror pre-COVID- 19 levels, MTS is also making preparations to increase bus service in the coming weeks. Schedules and routes are being finalized.

MTS reduced weekday service levels by approximately 25% on April 13 to address record-low ridership while still providing critical service for essential workers and trips.

Updated schedules can be accessed on the MTS website. MTS asks that people wear face coverings and practice physical distancing at all times.